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Crimean crisis: Russia returns three Ukrainian military ships


A year ago, the Russian Navy had landed three Ukrainian ships and 24 soldiers off the coast of the Crimean peninsula. The sailors are free, now Russia also handed over two gunboats and a cargo ship.

Russia has returned three Ukrainian military ships confiscated in the strait of Kerch. On Monday morning, Ukrainian authorities confirmed a corresponding message from the Russian Foreign Ministry.

The boats were fixed a year ago in the strait between Russia and the Crimean peninsula. It had been a transport ship and two gunboats. The incident was considered an escalation in the Crimean crisis. Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula belonging to Ukraine in 2014.

Prior to the return of the ships, Russian sources had reported that Moscow had decided to hand over the boats to Ukraine. The 24 marines who were on board the three ships and were remanded in custody were initially charged with illegally crossing the border. In September, however, they were released as part of a prisoner exchange between Russia and Ukraine.

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Meanwhile, the Kremlin announced, according to the Reuters news agency, that a planned summit on the Ukraine conflict, in which representatives of the two parties to the conflict, as well as Germany and France, should take place this year. France had announced on Friday that the so-called Normandy Summit should take place in Paris on 9 December, but Moscow had not confirmed this.

Russia, however, already dampened the expectations of the summit. "Let's not put the expectations too high in order not to be disappointed in the end," said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Monday. At the same time, the hopes should not be too low that the preparations bring in the end results, he said. President Vladimir Putin will have a telephone conversation in preparation for the Paris meeting.

In the so-called Normandy format, the presidents of France, Russia and Ukraine as well as Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) support the realization of the peace plan for the war in Donbass.

In the Luhansk and Donetsk regions, Ukrainian government troops and Russia-backed separatists have been fighting each other for more than five years. Around 13,000 people died according to Uno estimates in the war.

Source: spiegel

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